How'd it end?
July 29, 2009 10:12 PM   Subscribe

Did Dr. Rufus W. Hooker survive WWII? I read his 1943 memoir, Ship's Doctor, and it's driving me crazy.

A couple weeks ago, I read Ship's Doctor by Dr. Rufus W. Hooker. It was published in 1943, and the last event of the memoir is his service on a hospital ship retrieving the wounded from Pearl Harbor. The book ends with his statement that he'll remain a ship's doctor for the duration of the war.

The only information I've found online is this photograph on the Truman Library website.

I've considered calling the Navy records office. But, according to what I read on their website, to look up a service history they need the person's serial number. Or, if you don't have the number, the person's name, unit, and dates of service. I have none of that information. Furthermore, from the last chapter of the book, it seems that he might not have joined the Navy but remained in the merchant marine.

This is probably too obscure for the hive mind to know off the top of its manifold head. But where would I even go looking for this information? I've spent cumulative days looking for this on the web (even trying non-google search engines!), and I can't find anything.
posted by Netzapper to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Did you try the social security death index. Could the man in that photo from 1934 be 51 years old? If so there was a Rufus Hooker 1883-1968:

Birth Date: 2 Jan 1883
Death Date: Mar 1968
Social Security Number: 566-20-3276
State or Territory Where Number Was Issued: California

Death Residence Localities
ZIP Code: 95340
Localities: Merced, Merced, California
Red Top, Merced, California

No other Rufus Hooker seem close, and none died during WW2 based on this search.

More searches can be done via Mormon records on ancestorhunt
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:43 PM on July 29, 2009

The book has been reprinted by Kessinger Publishing, maybe they would know?
posted by gudrun at 10:51 PM on July 29, 2009

Best answer: Dr. Rufus Walker Hooker died Oct. 13, 1957 in Los Angeles. Here's his death notice from the Los Angeles Times of Oct. 16, 1957.

Before becoming a ship surgeon, he practiced medicine in Louisville, Kentucky, and Memphis, Tennessee. There's some info on his education in this book. In case you missed it, here's an earlier piece of his writing.
posted by Knappster at 11:22 PM on July 29, 2009

Response by poster: Goddamn that's impressive, Knappster.

Thank you so much! I'm ecstatic to hear that he survived the war and died at the distinguished age of 83.

Out of curiosity, how did you find all that? I looked all over the place... although I never thought to check pubmed.
posted by Netzapper at 11:47 PM on July 29, 2009

Glad I could help! I happen to have an subscription this month, and I quickly found his entries in the 1920 and 1930 censuses, his death notice, a passport application, and several passenger manifests from the 1930s. I found the Pubmed article by Googling "R. W. Hooker," and the Crozer Theological Seminary catalogue by Googling "Hooker, Rufus Walker." As a genealogist, I've learned to try every permutation of names and initials.
posted by Knappster at 11:59 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

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